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Help me decide: core i3 540 or phenom II x4 955

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October 15, 2010 4:42:35 PM

I can't decide between these two processors, I'd welcome any feedback.

Intended use: software development / power user and some gaming when taking a break.

Overclocking: yes

This is part of a full system build and the cpu is taking a back seat price wise. I do intend to upgrade the cpu/motherboard in 6 months or so.

Core i3:
- Faster per clock, when overclocked, most light threaded operations should be much faster than the phenom. (note: compiling in my world of development doesn't take advantage of 4 cores)
- Can drop in an i5/i7 down the road without buying a new motherboard


Phenom:
- 4 cores, system will be responsive even when heavy multitasking and more raw compute power when apps use all cores.

Overall:
If it weren't for the ability to drop in a i5/i7 down the road, it would be a no brainer to get the phenom. I'm open to being convinced either way though.

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a b à CPUs
October 15, 2010 5:18:47 PM

How far down the road are we talking, and why wouldn't you drop in a i5/i7 now (I'm guessing cost)?

Dual-core is now pretty much the bare minimum for any system. I would go with a quad-core now, and if that means you have to go Phenom for affordability, I would. Does compiling in your world take advantage of 2 cores? Because if it does, having 4 cores would mean you could compile, and then still use the computer for other things (internet browsing, maybe even gaming if you're compiling to a separate HDD).

If the cost of an i5 is prohibitive today, what are your other components like? If you're going to pair this system with a Radeon 5550 or a GTS 240, you won't need more than the i3 or the Phenom II for gaming. You already stated your development probably won't benefit from more cores, so would upgrading to a i5/i7 buy you anything down the line?

Basically, I would go with the best quad-core you can get now, and not worry about upgrading in a year or two.
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October 15, 2010 6:45:13 PM

Cost is the only reason I'm not putting in an i5/i7 now. For my type of work, an ssd and lots of screen space, and plenty of ram come first. I'm pairing it up with a 5830 since it supports 3 monitors on one card and at $170 it's not that much more expensive than a 57xx.

Compiles don't take long enough to really do much else, they are slightly multi threaded but mostly single processor speeds rule. We are talking on the order of 5s-10s builds (which I don't want to turn into 20s and I'd much rather them be 2s-3s).
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October 15, 2010 6:49:24 PM

alandjackson said:
Cost is the only reason I'm not putting in an i5/i7 now. For my type of work, an ssd and lots of screen space, and plenty of ram come first. I'm pairing it up with a 5830 since it supports 3 monitors on one card and at $170 it's not that much more expensive than a 57xx.

Compiles don't take long enough to really do much else, they are slightly multi threaded but mostly single processor speeds rule. We are talking on the order of 5s-10s builds (which I don't want to turn into 20s and I'd much rather them be 2s-3s).


If your not gaming much an $85 5670 will power 3 monitors without a problem.
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October 15, 2010 7:04:34 PM

loneninja said:
If your not gaming much an $85 5670 will power 3 monitors without a problem.


I agree but the 5670 doesn't have 3 digital outputs (one is dsub). The cheapest one with 3 digital outs is the 5750, but at that price you are already in the mid $100's and the 5830 seems like a good value at that range.

Even though I don't play a ton of games, I do some and and want them to look nice when I do.
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a b à CPUs
October 15, 2010 8:36:41 PM

Sorry, when you said you were looking at build time, I was thinking like hour-long compiles. If you are thinking of upgrading to a Phenom II or Core i3, either system will beat whatever you are currently running clock-for-clock (i.e. Phenom II is more efficient than P4, Celeron, Core 2, Athlon 64, and Phenom 1).

Still, I don't think a single 5830 will tax-out a Phenom II, so I still recommend quad-core. But that's my opinion.
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October 25, 2010 2:22:52 PM

Best answer selected by alandjackson.
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